Abused women forcibly deported to Saudi Arabia

Turkish police on May 16 arrested two sisters and deported them to Saudi Arabia after receiving a formal complaint from their family living in the kingdom. The complaint was lodged by their father in March, claiming they are ISIS loyalists. Areej and Ashwaq al-Harby pleaded for help in a video that went viral on social media as they were being taken to a Turkish police station by immigration officers. In the video, they said their abusive family has been spreading lies to get them deported. The sisters, who fled Saudi Arabia in February, were seeking for asylum in Turkey, fearing they will be criminally charged and face execution if returned to their home country. (India Today, May 17)

Saudi Arabia's King Salman recently ordered a review of the country's rules on male "guardianship," which bars women from making many basic decisions on their own. But Human Rights Watch is urging the king to abolish the system altogether. "We have seen Saudi Arabia's baby steps on women's rights reform obstructed or nullified as a result of the male guardianship system," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East director. "King Salman's order will also have a limited impact unless the authorities finally act boldly and end this discriminatory system once and for all." (NPR, May 9)

On April 19, United Nations member states elected Saudi Arabia to serve on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, a body "dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women." (HRW, April 28)

President Trump, in his current visit to the kingdom sealed an unprecedentedly large $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal apparently includes a THAAD anti-missile system. (Reuters, May 21; Times of Israel, CNN, May 20)